Does Nvidia buying ARM effect Apple Silicon?

jerryk

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There are stories that Nvidia is buying ARM for $40B next week. Would this have any impact on Apple Silicon?

 

throAU

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Probably minimal impact, as Apple have a license to the designs they licensed from ARM that is likely perpetual for that base design (and involves a small royalty payment per-processor - that's the way ARM license their stuff).

Apple are building many things on top of that and probably at the point where they don't need to go back to ARM for new things. Apple's processors may be ARM at their core, but they're much, much more than that (which is how and why they out-perform most other chips on the market).

edit:
it's a done deal:

 
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Woochoo

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None whatsoever. Apple is in control of its own destiny at this point, and isn’t dependent on ARM for anything.
Apple only needs to be allowed to use ARM ISA (which they have a perpetual license to use, if I'm not mistaken), they make their own designs and don't use any of the ARM core IPs so they couldn't care less.
 
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throAU

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If anything this may be good for android however, as no doubt Nvidia will be selling custom ARM+Nvidia GPU designs with high performance graphics on them in the future - GPU performance per watt is one area where the non-apple mobile gear has lagged behind apple.
 
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Waragainstsleep

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Actually there are two ways this has some potential impact on Apple:

Firstly, this massively boosts the chances that Microsoft will improve Windows for ARM and Mac users will be able to go on using Parallels and VMWare if not Boot Camp;

Secondly, Nvidia have stated they wish to build Windows PCs with ARM based CPUs and Nvidia GPUs. This means that in theory it might yet be possible to have an AS Mac with a big ass Nvidia or AMD (who will undoubtedly have to follow suit) GPU. Assuming Apple doesn't have some mind-blowing GPU solution of their own in the pipeline meaning nobody needs a big-ass PCIE GPU for their AS Mac.
I doubt this will change the politics between Apple and Nvidia regarding drivers but maybe it opens a door for AMD at the very least. And since Apple is ditching 3rd party kernel extensions maybe Nvidia doesn't need Apple to "allow" their drivers (if they ever did);
 
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poorcody

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Two interesting articles today on the purchase. The Reuter's article implies a backlash is already fomenting.


 
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bousozoku

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I doubt it will have a significant effect on Apple's designs, although it's always good to watch out for a company you angered.

Nvidia needs a lot more experience with ARM. I had the Google Nexus 7 tablet with an Nvidia Tegra processor and the processor would surge and ebb, as if it was powered by ocean waves.

Hopefully, it will be good for everyone, with graphics processing becoming even better. I'd be interested in how Qualcomm is gasping right now.
 
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deconstruct60

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Actually there are two ways this has some potential impact on Apple:

Firstly, this massively boosts the chances that Microsoft will improve Windows for ARM and Mac users will be able to go on using Parallels and VMWare
Massively? Not really. If ARM was on the verge of dying and Nvidia saved it, that would be a "massive" change. ARM really wasn't dying. And investments like Cortex X1 and Neoverse were already in the hopper if Nvidia had bought them or not. The massive change here is for Softbank , not ARM. ARM had andstill has cash flow. ( in fact there is a billion bonus if ARM hits financial targets before the deal concludes. So if ARM was in such horrible shape why would Softbank put that in the contract. ARM isn't that bad off. Apple shifting to ARM for Macs is just millions more higher value ARM chips sold. That is only going to improve ARMs books. The Neoverse server alternatives are also about to foll out in bulk at the end of 2020 . Again likely to improve ARM's revenues. Whether Nvidia bought them or not ARM was on track to do better., be deployed in future Windows 2-in-1 ( on Cortex X1 instances ) , and deployed on Windows Azure on Neoverse units.

Windows 10 on Arm running on Parallels/VMWare is almost entirely a Windows licensing issue . Not a technical one. ( Apple probably needs to crank out a few drivers to add special features to their trackpad some other aspects but that probably isn't a show stopper. However, it probably is not high priority for Apple either so it could be a long time before they put in the effort if lots to do on making Macs better has a much longer "to do" list. )



if not Boot Camp;
Very highly unlikely. There is no "Boot Camp" on Apple Silicon Macs. Apple has constructed at boot security system that is Mac only. Pretty good chance there is not even any UEFI boot firmware there at all. No UEFI then no "boot camp" even possible.

Apple is making a new generation of Macs to be Macs. Period. Not part time Macs , but just specifically built Macs.

Apple basically said virtualization was the only option. If they have dumped UEFI then they won't be backtracking from that position because a small vocal few flame some message boards.

Secondly, Nvidia have stated they wish to build Windows PCs with ARM based CPUs and Nvidia GPUs.
Like specifically when? They have thrown stuff out tlike.

https://www.zdnet.com/article/nvidi...-source-io-accelerates-data-workloads-for-ai/

But that is not specifically "standard Windows Desktop" targeted.

The examples the Nvidia CEO walked through was mainly in the data center space


There is Windows Server in the datacenter space, but generic end user apps isn't really the prime objective there.

Nvidia vastly growing their CPU products to the determent of the current ARM customers is exactly what the antitrust regulators are going to be bristling about.


This means that in theory it might yet be possible to have an AS Mac with a big ass Nvidia or AMD (who will undoubtedly have to follow suit) GPU.
Not really. Nvidia owning ARM doesn't mean they get Apple's instruction set modification/augmentations. macOS isn't necessarily going to completely run on non Apple Silicon. Minimally the parts of the OS that leverge the proprietary Neutral unit ( for touch ID , FaceID , apps features , etc) highly likely won't work. I is possible someone gets a hack that gets into some kind of "happens to appear to work" state , but likely worse than hackintosh currently get in completeness.

Apple isn't going help and fund Nvidia drivers for macOS. Long term, Nvidia won't be able to "stuff" unapproved extensions into the ARM version of the kernel. It isn't about just hardware. If there is no software/firmware to go along with the hardware then don't really have a Mac.


Assuming Apple doesn't have some mind-blowing GPU solution of their own in the pipeline meaning nobody needs a big-ass PCIE GPU for their AS Mac.
Apple doesn't need a "mind blowing" GPU solution. The vast majority of Mac sold now do not have "mind blowing" GPU in them. All Apple needs is a "a bit better than good enough" GPU to subsume the largest portion of the Mac GPU market. The next largest GPU segment is covered by the GPUs in the MBP 16" and iMac 21.5-24" . Again not particularly mind blowing.

The only "mind blowing" range is in the Mac Pro ( and iMac Pro). Apple doesn't really need to cover that as only in the low single digits of the Mac market ( i.e., 1-3% of the 7% of the PC market that Mac has. So something quite small. ). That market is so small that Nvidia really isn't motivated to do much there. Nvidia isn't primary a GPU add-in-card company anymore (even without buying ARM. But buying ARM further solidifies that to a even larger extent).


I doubt this will change the politics between Apple and Nvidia regarding drivers but maybe it opens a door for AMD at the very least.
when was the door closed long term ?
Yes, Apple's June 2020 diagram of GPU support didn't have AMD support for AS version of macOS. But for the next approximately 6 months the only system that could "publicly" run AS macOS only had a iGPU. Most likely that will continue pretty far into 2021. June 2021 will bring a new version of macOS that is in no way bound by those limitations.

If Apple was going to have transitioned Mac Pro ( and iMac Pro ) class products they were going to need 3rd party GPUs. Likewise eGPU on Thunderbolt equipped products lower down the computational hierarchy. THere is about zero need to completely solve that on day 1 of the "sold to end users" system transition. Nvidia buying ARM really has zero impact there. Nvidia GPUs were "zeroed out" anyway even without the ARM transition. Apple never dealt with ARM's GPU implementations at all at any step of the evolution.


And since Apple is ditching 3rd party kernel extensions maybe Nvidia doesn't need Apple to "allow" their drivers (if they ever did);
Systems extensions still have escalated privileges and still require a authorization signature from Apple just as much as kernel extensions do. There material change of not running "unmapped" , raw in the kernel space doesn't impact authorization. Piss off Apple by not abiding by their 'rules' and Apple won't sign System extensions either.
 
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deconstruct60

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There are stories that Nvidia is buying ARM for $40B next week. Would this have any impact on Apple Silicon?

No major impact short or intermediate term. Apple has probably already lined up buying an Architecure license for the next iteration of the ARM instruction set ( what some folks are calling "version 9" but may or may not have a different number attached).

There is pretty good chance the regulatory agencies extent the time it takes for this deal to close. That would give Apple even more time to close the v9 contract if for some reason they (or ARM) wasn't ready to sign.

Once Apple has closed on v9 they probably won't care. Either Nvidia actually does commit to keeping the open licensing system going which would mean there is really no change. Pragmatically, Apple would be dealing with the same "ARM" they have been working with for the last 10+ years.

If Nvidia dramatically disrupts the open licensing system then there could be long term impacts. ( Right now Nvidia is talking up how they won't change anything ... blah blah .... as if they can say anything else and still get the deal past regulatory agenies. So how truthful that is long term is a toss up. The high overpayment that Nvidia paid makes that at best wishy washy. The same historical "open license" business model has extremely little chance of paying off the price paid. ) . Long term Apple could "fork" Apple Silicon off of tracking the future ARM improvements if Nivida puts too heavy of a finger on the "neutral" scales to skew outcomes their way. If Nvidia collapsed ARM into a proprietary solution in 8-10 years then Apple probably would at least minimally look to move to something that was a healthy open ecosystem.

That is in part way they have called it "Apple Silicon". Apple Silicon isn't an instruction set. It is what Appe designs and makes via a fabrication contractor. [ Also not trying to give ARM free brand name reconition also. Like Apple not putting Intel inside stickers on Macs. ]
 
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deconstruct60

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I doubt it will have a significant effect on Apple's designs, although it's always good to watch out for a company you angered.
Angered? Nvidia? The total mac add-in-card market is almost to the point of "rounding error" status in terms of Nvidia's overall revenues. It is as close to Nvidia doesn't care as it is that they are 'angry'. Nvidia is quite keen to play the "blame game" of heaping lack of new drivers on Apple. But that is just a gaming the user expectations.


Nvidia needs a lot more experience with ARM. I had the Google Nexus 7 tablet with an Nvidia Tegra processor and the processor would surge and ebb, as if it was powered by ocean waves.
Nvidia bought the talents of the ARM designers. They bought experience. [ Throwing about $1B worth of stock at some fraction ARM employee roster so plan on keeping most of them too at least for a couple of years until all of that stock vests. ]

Nvidia at this point doesn't need to design their own custom implementation of the ARM instruction set. They can just put their finger on the scale of the supposely "neutral" standard ARM design implementations to drift toward Nvidia use cases. Most likely though the base design implementation they are more interested in is the Neoverse server one. Nvidia is moving toward being a datacenter company. It really isn't a gamer add-in-card GPU vendor anymore. User gaming is not why they spent the vast majority of that $40B.


Hopefully, it will be good for everyone, with graphics processing becoming even better.
Will it? Nvidia has tried to push smartphone chip vendors to adopt Nvidia GPU tech in their systems as a substitute for ARM GPUs for a long time and gotten no substantive design wins. Power wise it wasn't a good fit and Nvidia licensing is somewhat painful.

Similarly Nvidia doesn't have any wins in the contract to build for the major gaming consoles. [ there is an Nintendo though] . Apple has found them a less than dutiful subcontractor partner. Nvidia bought the Portland Group compiler system and proceeded to drop support for support that didn't align with digging a deeper moat around their products.

Nvidia tends to be out for Nvidia when they show up as a sub component contractor. If that attitude bleeds into how ARM generally does business then this will eventually be the end of ARM as it once existed.


I'd be interested in how Qualcomm is gasping right now.
Quite likely Softbank came to Qualcomm offering to sell to them also. They shouldn't be gasping at this point. They should be 5-6 months into a plan development of how to adjust.

Qualcomm has an architectural license(s). It may be time to update those. Nvidia is likely more interested in the ARM Neoverse implementations than in the X1 and standard Cortex designs. Short to intermediate term that is probably not a huge issue to worry about. What is currently in the design pipeline is probably going to follow through to completion. The deal also probably isn't going to close quickly either. ( and if Qualcomm rattles the cages at the regulator agencies it will go even slower ..... which will give Qualcomm more time to plan.)

The only gasping at Qualcomm is probably more so in how much Nvidia overpaid for ARM. That would be the long term concerning part. Because at some point Nvidia is going to need to make that money back and just plain ARM licensing can't do it. So it is matter of which current ARM customer's product does Nvidia attack? All of them or just a narrow subset? Prudently that should be more of a "wait and see" for Qualcomm. It is not likely them ( Qualcomm's big value add to the ARM standard design is adding a modem. Low probability that Nvidia is going after that market. ARM didn't and Nvidia is even less equipped to. ). Qualcomm isn't dependent upon ARM GPU intellectual IP so if Nvidia kills that , in some ways that helps Qualcomms GPU. Nvidia's GPU isn't competitive in the phone space so that would more so be just a vanity play for Nvidia. ( probably would make the folks over at Imagination Tech happy too for Nvidia to kill of ARM GPU IP. )

Qualcomm needs to improve how they are executing on improving their products. But they needed to do that whether Nvidia bought ARM or not. That isn't really "new" with this ARM ownership transition. They may need to go back to doing their own entirely custom implementation or do more work to make the X1 collection of customers more influential.
- - Post merged: - -

 

iKrivetko

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There's not much that NV can do (definitely not without getting into trouble with monopoly laws I'd imagine) and according to their official statement they don't really have any plans to meddle into arm's affairs anyway.
 

Brien

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Assuming Nvidia optimize their GPUs for ARM it’d be nice to see those on iOS devices.
 

Waragainstsleep

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Massively? Not really. If ARM was on the verge of dying and Nvidia saved it, that would be a "massive" change. ARM really wasn't dying. And investments like Cortex X1 and Neoverse were already in the hopper if Nvidia had bought them or not. The massive change here is for Softbank , not ARM. ARM had andstill has cash flow. ( in fact there is a billion bonus if ARM hits financial targets before the deal concludes. So if ARM was in such horrible shape why would Softbank put that in the contract. ARM isn't that bad off. Apple shifting to ARM for Macs is just millions more higher value ARM chips sold. That is only going to improve ARMs books. The Neoverse server alternatives are also about to foll out in bulk at the end of 2020 . Again likely to improve ARM's revenues. Whether Nvidia bought them or not ARM was on track to do better., be deployed in future Windows 2-in-1 ( on Cortex X1 instances ) , and deployed on Windows Azure on Neoverse units.
What are you blathering about? Who said ARM was in any trouble? If ASi is as good as I suspect it will be, others will start looking at ARM. That will include new players and existing players like AMD and Intel. Nvidia clearly sees this and is looking for an opportunity to get there head of the pack. The chasing pack.
ARM's value is poised to soar, Its Softbank who are in trouble otherwise they'd be demented to sell ARM at this stage. Thats why they kept a 10% stake, they know its going to rocket up at some point too.

So yes, I think Nvidia jumping in to kickstart the new WinVid PC era will push MS to speed things up with Windows on ARM. Massively. Without this deal it could be a year or two before anyone big enough to matter decides to wade in. In that scenario MS takes their sweet time to get Windows for ARM up to scratch and maybe even longer if Apple doesn't want to run it natively. With Nvidia coming in, MS has bets to hedge and its guaranteed worth their while to get it done. Once its done maybe Apple decides its useful or maybe they just let Parallels and VMWare worry about it.



Windows 10 on Arm running on Parallels/VMWare is almost entirely a Windows licensing issue . Not a technical one. Apple probably needs to crank out a few drivers to add special features to their trackpad some other aspects but that probably isn't a show stopper.
MS need to license it and make it worth licensing. Someone needs to write decent drivers for every Mac from the last few years. So its a technical issue and a licensing issue.





Very highly unlikely. There is no "Boot Camp" on Apple Silicon Macs. Apple has constructed at boot security system that is Mac only. Pretty good chance there is not even any UEFI boot firmware there at all. No UEFI then no "boot camp" even possible.

Apple is making a new generation of Macs to be Macs. Period. Not part time Macs , but just specifically built Macs.

Apple basically said virtualization was the only option. If they have dumped UEFI then they won't be backtracking from that position because a small vocal few flame some message boards.
Semantics. It won't be called Boot Camp.Windows running natively on ASi. Whatever it gets called. I'm not sure if Apple wants it or not. I too would guess not. Theres a half decent chance it will run faster on ASi under virtualisation than it does on x86 which would be fine for all involved except where games come in. Apple might like this as it would push devs to make Mac games instead of relying on BC.


Like specifically when? They have thrown stuff out tlike.
Recently. I read it in an article about the Acquisition deal.


Nvidia vastly growing their CPU products to the determent of the current ARM customers is exactly what the antitrust regulators are going to be bristling about.
Yes but will they realise it soon enough? I think Nvidia is targeting replacing AMD and Intel for Windows boxes of all shapes and sizes. Why wouldn't they? Someone is going to do it. If no-one steps up soon enough it might end up being Apple.
I doubt the regulators will see this coming though and for now Nvidia doesn't look like the monopoly it aims to become.



Not really. Nvidia owning ARM doesn't mean they get Apple's instruction set modification/augmentations. macOS isn't necessarily going to completely run on non Apple Silicon. Minimally the parts of the OS that leverge the proprietary Neutral unit ( for touch ID , FaceID , apps features , etc) highly likely won't work. I is possible someone gets a hack that gets into some kind of "happens to appear to work" state , but likely worse than hackintosh currently get in completeness.

Apple isn't going help and fund Nvidia drivers for macOS. Long term, Nvidia won't be able to "stuff" unapproved extensions into the ARM version of the kernel. It isn't about just hardware. If there is no software/firmware to go along with the hardware then don't really have a Mac.
We've all been speculating for weeks as to whether any ASi Macs will support any kind of full size PCI-E 4 GPUs. Seems like Nvidia building them for other ARM based systems puts them a step closer to being an option for Apple. As you say there are obstacles but it has to be closer than the current Winter friendly cards.



Apple doesn't need a "mind blowing" GPU solution. The vast majority of Mac sold now do not have "mind blowing" GPU in them. All Apple needs is a "a bit better than good enough" GPU to subsume the largest portion of the Mac GPU market. The next largest GPU segment is covered by the GPUs in the MBP 16" and iMac 21.5-24" . Again not particularly mind blowing.

The only "mind blowing" range is in the Mac Pro ( and iMac Pro). Apple doesn't really need to cover that as only in the low single digits of the Mac market ( i.e., 1-3% of the 7% of the PC market that Mac has. So something quite small. ). That market is so small that Nvidia really isn't motivated to do much there. Nvidia isn't primary a GPU add-in-card company anymore (even without buying ARM. But buying ARM further solidifies that to a even larger extent).
Apple wants to get into gaming they need to up their GPU game on Macs. They've blown away most of the competition on mobile, no reason to think they don't have some good stuff coming for Mac. We just don't know until they show their hand. But make no mistake, they want big game titles so they need to do something to attract those devs.



when was the door closed long term ?
Yes, Apple's June 2020 diagram of GPU support didn't have AMD support for AS version of macOS. But for the next approximately 6 months the only system that could "publicly" run AS macOS only had a iGPU. Most likely that will continue pretty far into 2021. June 2021 will bring a new version of macOS that is in no way bound by those limitations.

If Apple was going to have transitioned Mac Pro ( and iMac Pro ) class products they were going to need 3rd party GPUs. Likewise eGPU on Thunderbolt equipped products lower down the computational hierarchy. THere is about zero need to completely solve that on day 1 of the "sold to end users" system transition. Nvidia buying ARM really has zero impact there. Nvidia GPUs were "zeroed out" anyway even without the ARM transition. Apple never dealt with ARM's GPU implementations at all at any step of the evolution.
The longer the wait for Mac Pro Asi, the greater the chance Apple have some amazing in-house GPU solution. Maybe the first ASi Macs will give us a hint?
 

Joelist

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It has zero effect on Apple Silicon.

Apple silicon is not "ARM" in the sense of design at all - all Apple uses is the instruction set. Everything else is 100% Apple designed. Apple Silicon is NOT Cortex or even a Cortex derivative and hasn't been since they went from A5 to A6. This is also why the success of Apple Silicon does not mean more adoption of ARM because OEMs know that "real" ARM is nowhere near as performant as Apple Silicon.
 

throAU

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Firstly, this massively boosts the chances that Microsoft will improve Windows for ARM and Mac users will be able to go on using Parallels and VMWare if not Boot Camp;
But why would I want to run windows if it is the ARM variant with no useful software?

Windows on ARM sucks. The only reason I'd want to run Windows is for legacy compatibility with old x86 based Windows software - if that isn't possible because the ARM variant is the only one that runs, then why bother? Every other mainstream OS (and most niche platforms too) has a better software library than Windows on ARM.
 

Nermal

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The only reason I'd want to run Windows is for legacy compatibility with old x86 based Windows software - if that isn't possible because the ARM variant is the only one that runs, then why bother?
Arm Windows can run x86 software, albeit via emulation.
 

Nermal

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If you're going to go down that path, I can run X86 windows under emulation.

🤷‍♂️
I may have misinterpreted your earlier post. It seemed to imply that Arm Windows couldn't run x86 apps at all, rather than just meaning natively.

As for emulating x86 Windows itself, that would naturally be slower as there wouldn't be any equivalent Arm APIs to hook into. I'm also not sure how effective caching would be in that case.

Admittedly I haven't actually tried an Arm version of Windows for any serious work so I'm not sure how good the emulation is in practice.
 

Brien

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Not an iPhone, but a beefier iPad Pro with a mobile RTX would be nice. I don't think anyone expects to put a workstation class GPU in a pocket.
 

leman

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Not an iPhone, but a beefier iPad Pro with a mobile RTX would be nice. I don't think anyone expects to put a workstation class GPU in a pocket.
How much more beefier? In performance per watt, Apple GPUs are currently about 2-3 times faster. Nvidia just doesn't do low-power GPUs. And if they scale down too much, there will be nothing left of the performance.
 
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